The Maharashtra government has decided to use hospitals attached to medical colleges as treatment centres for mucormycosis, a serious but rare fungal infection ― aka black fungus ― now affecting coronavirus patients, said state Health Minister Rajesh Tope on 11 May.
Symptoms of mucormycosis, known also as black fungus, include headache, fever, pain under the eyes, nasal or sinus congestion and partial loss of vision.
Six other patients are currently undergoing treatment for the disease, known as black fungus, the official said. A 38-year-old patient from Maharal in Thane rural and another one from Dombivli town died of the fungal infection while undergoing treatment at different Covid-19 care centres in Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) limits, the civic body’s health officer Dr. Ashwini Patil said.
Six other patients were undergoing treatment for mucormycosis and two of them were admitted to the ICUs, she said.
The official said Covid-19 patients need not panic as this fungal infection is mostly being found in those having diabetes. Such patients need to keep their blood sugar level under control, she said.
Some Covid-19 patients have mucormycosis too; there should not be excessive use of steroids for their treatment, the official said.
The health minister said, “There could be over 2,000 Mucormycosis patients in the state as of now and with more and more Covid-19 cases coming up, their number would increase for sure.”
The state government has decided to select hospitals attached to medical colleges for treatment of Mucormycosis patients as it demands a multidisciplinary approach, Tope said.
He said black fungus had a 50% mortality rate and it was found in Covid-19 patients with suppressed immunity or co-morbidities.
“A mucormycosis patient needs to be seen by various experts such as ENT, ophthalmologists and neurologists among others. We are trying to cover most of the treatment under the Mahatma Phule Jan Aarogya Yojana (the state’s flagship health scheme), the minister said.
Commenting over the costly treatment, he said, I will be writing to the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority to bring down the MRP of medicines needed for Mucormycosis treatment.”
Amphotercin-B is a key medicine required for treatment of such patients. Haffkine (a state-run pharma firm based in Mumbai) is going float a tender for one lakh injections of the drug, Rajesh Tope said.
Meanwhile, Lok Sabha member from Kalyan Shrikant Shinde in a release said during a virtual meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray over the weekend, he made several suggestions on how to tackle the fungal infection.
Shinde suggested that a task force be set up to lay down protocols for the use of steroids for treating Covid-19 patients.